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A Buyer's Guide to Asset Management Software

Buyer's guide

What is Asset Management Software?

In essence, Asset Management Software (AMS) is a system designed to maximise the usability of each asset that is critical for the day-to-day operations of a business.

By being able to record and track assets from acquisition to disposal through efficient inventory and lifecycle management, businesses are able to build a centralised system filled with valuable asset data. Once collected, this data can enable an asset manager to forecast future asset acquisitions with better accuracy and begin to reduce asset expenditure. With the aim of maximising an asset's overall Return on Investment (ROI).

Depending on the size of a business and its assets, the data collected by an AMS solution can be vast. With the use of modern technology, most asset management software solutions are able to collect information such as real-time location, total and current usage, user permission, and maintenance and repair details. The latter being essential in avoiding unplanned downtime that can be costly to both business operations and costs.

By using this data, businesses are able to maximise an asset’s usability and determine the total cost of ownership. They can highlight if the benefits of an asset outweigh the total running costs, making it easier to decide when, or if, an ageing asset should be replaced or disposed of. These costs can include maintenance and repairs, replacing components, employee training, and operation.

5 Benefits of an Asset Management Software Solution

1. Properties, Facilities & Buildings Management

5 to 20% of overall fixed asset costs are contributed by properties, facilities or buildings, which are quite often referred to as fixed assets.

Having a property asset management software can help to record purchase prices, appreciation and depreciation levels, and the disposal price of your fixed assets.

Most accounting standards, such as GAAP, IFRS, and BSI, require you to disclose all of your assets on your annual return to companies house. Hence, most organisations use an asset management solution to accurately track the value of their assets.

Apart from the financial requirement, properties and facilities require frequently planned and preventative maintenance. As well as cleaning, security management, visitor tracking and energy management, to be operational. An asset management system can help to schedule, record and report on these activities.

A modern property asset management software can provide a framework for the following:

  • Develop and maintain an effective Fixed Asset Register
  • Calculate the appreciation and depreciation of fixed assets
  • Schedule, track and monitor maintenance activities
  • Record cleaning activities
  • Manage workplace layout
  • Track visitors and occupants for safety and security
  • Energy management of properties

2. IT Asset Management

Businesses can collect a lot of valuable data from knowing the exact location, status, user, usage and license renewal of IT Assets. A cloud-based IT Asset Management system helps businesses to maintain an accurate IT Asset Register.

Along with hardware, a key asset that can be found in most IT asset registers is software. Software Asset Management helps businesses to reduce the cost of software ownership, optimise the number of software assets required, and maintain compliance with vendor contracts.

Tagging, Tracking and Reporting your hardware assets can help with their procurement and disposal. And, importantly, companies can understand which employee uses each asset.

A contemporary IT Inventory Management Solution can:

  • Provide an on-demand view of your IT Inventory
  • Manage entitlements and endpoints
  • Know the usage data of your Cloud and On-Premise IT Assets
  • Ringfence your IT Network to be cyber safe
  • Monitor compliance with software vendor contracts
  • Easily know what IT assets you have and who are using them

3. Equipment and Machinery Management

Unplanned downtime in equipment and machinery can cost 3 to 18% of total revenue. So, understandably, businesses prefer to maximise the uptime of their machinery.

An asset management software provides a framework that can help schedule planned, preventative and reactive maintenance. This includes scheduling maintenance, organising internal and external maintenance engineers, issuing work orders, arranging spare parts and disposal. Asset management tools that specialise in equipment and maintenance management are called Computerised Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS).

Maintaining equipment and machinery, production targets and company targets are interlinked. Most modern cloud-based asset management tools help to organise your planned and preventative maintenance in such a way that it can have a minimal impact on production.

A beneficial tool in most modern AMS solution is the Internet of Things (IoT). Equipment and machinery can transmit operating conditions like temperature, pressure, and service status. IoT friendly solutions can capture this data from the cloud and provide insightful and actionable reports to increase uptime of the machinery.

An effective computerised maintenance management system will help you to:

  • Schedule planned and preventative maintenance activities
  • Assign jobs to internal and external maintenance engineers
  • Order replacement parts
  • Optimise maintenance costs
  • Effectively manage reactive maintenance activities
  • Improve age and uptime of your equipment and machinery

4. Stock or Inventory Management

Asset tracking capabilities of an asset management system are quite often used to track stock and inventory, just like buildings, properties and facilities (typically referred to as fixed assets). The UK Accounting practice requires companies to declare their assets, which can include the stock/inventory an organisation holds. Hence, businesses like to record all their assets in one place called an asset register.

The technology used in tracking your stock and inventory can be RFID, Barcodes and NFC. Quite often, a hand-held scanner is used in reading an asset.

Typically, inventory is connected with users, location and projects. In some cases, it can be leased as well.

A modern cloud-based asset management tool allows companies to know the detailed status of all their stock and inventory and will help you to:

  • Reduce or eliminate ghost assets
  • Track leased and owned inventory
  • Use RFID, Barcodes and Handheld scanners to Tag, Track and Report on your stock and inventory

5. Fleet Management

Just like properties and inventory, modern asset management tools can help to track the location of fleet assets. The technology often used in tracking fleet assets is Global Positioning System (GPS).

Asset Management Tools specialised to manage fleet are called fleet asset management tools. These tools can provide businesses with a variety of vital data, such as the speed of each fleet asset. For example, defined rules and protocols can be scheduled and monitored for fleet vehicle operators.

A cloud-based fleet asset management solution will:

  • Track the location of your fleet assets
  • Track speed and traffic compliance of your fleet assets
  • Optimise pick-up and delivery routine
  • Reduce fleet maintenance costs

Knowledge Guides to Enhance Your Asset Management

7 Benefits of Asset Management to Enhance Your Business
19th Sep 2019

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How to Eliminate Ghost Assets With Asset Management
28th Nov 2019

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The Benefits of Small Business Asset Management Software
16th Oct 2019

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10 Key Asset Management Software Features for Small Businesses
19th Dec 2019

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A Complete Guide to Property Asset Management and its Many Benefits
6th Dec 2019

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Analysing the Asset Life Cycle From Planning to Disposal
10th Oct 2019

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5 Key Enterprise Asset Management Considerations
10th Oct 2019

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Cloud Based or On-Premise Asset Management Software
30th Oct 2018

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How Local Councils Can Benefit from Effective Asset Management
28th Nov 2019

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Asset Management in Schools
1st Apr 2020

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Faq’s

Frequently Asked Questions

Q A

Why do Businesses Manage Assets?

Businesses choose to manage assets in a bid to maximise usability and store all asset data in one centralised system. Whilst identifying risks, tracking usage and reducing unnecessary expenditure.

Assets can be made up of anything, from inventory and IT equipment to buildings and company vehicles. The key to effectively managing these assets is having the ability to track them in real-time. This can either be inside the workplace or assets that are moving in-and-out, such as inventory. Real-time tracking is achievable with features such as RFID tags and GPS, which can be found in most asset management software tools.

With real-time tracking, managers are able to record critical asset data like work orders and total usage. This helps to build a complete and accurate asset register and significantly reduce data errors. Tracking features can also eliminate the need for error-prone tools, such as spreadsheets.

Collecting data is crucial in a business’s attempt to build an effective life cycle for each asset. An asset life cycle can be put into four stages; planning, acquisition, operation & maintenance, and disposal. By recording data from existing assets, managers can highlight the need for future acquisitions with the aim of improving operations.

Once an asset has been acquired and implemented, it is then tracked. This lets businesses know how an asset is being utilised in order to maximise the output of operations. With this information, asset managers can accurately know when it is time to dispose of ageing assets. Doing so in the most efficient and cost-saving manner for the business.

The need to reduce spending is also an essential reason for managing assets. With access to accurate data, businesses can work with more precise budgets and forecasts. And, with real-time tracking, they’re able to identify the current and historical location of each asset. Enabling them to reduce replacement costs of lost or stolen equipment.

Another advantage of managing assets is the ability to produce an effective maintenance and repair schedule. Having this schedule in place can be essential to reducing costly unplanned downtime. This can be best achieved through preventive and active maintenance for business-critical assets.

Q A

What Problems can an Asset Management Software Solution Solve?

By allowing businesses to track and record their assets, an asset management software solution can be an essential tool for effective inventory and lifecycle management. With an AMS system in place, businesses are able to collect critical assets data. Such as real-time location, total and current usage, user permission, and maintenance schedules.

Without an AMS system, however, businesses can encounter a number of problems. Five main issues being the lack of control over assets, a lack of real-time data, being unaware of an asset’s total cost of ownership, a lack of sharable data between teams, and constant spending on lost or stolen assets.

But, with an asset management software solution, businesses are able to get a better handle on these problems and work towards solving them.

1. The lack of control over business assets.
AMS enables you to consistently, and constantly, track and record the lifecycle process of an asset. With this, businesses are able to understand the process and the journey that an asset will embark on from acquisition to disposal. This can involve collecting data on an assets location history, when an asset is being used and by who, and even allowing you to assign assets to a specific project or employee.

2. Lack of real-time data.
With the use of tracking and tagging features in an AMS tool, businesses are able to track and collect data in real-time. Features such as RFID tags and GPS trackers provide information like real-time location, current work order and current work order status. And, unlike the process of manual input into spreadsheets, real-time data can be updated and added to an asset register almost instantly. Thus eliminating the possibility of human error.

3. Unaware of the total cost of ownership.
By collecting essential data such as maintenance reports and usability, businesses are able to calculate an assets total cost of ownership with greater accuracy. This can reduce spending on asset acquisition, optimise an asset’s usability through scheduled maintenance and repairs, and help to determine when an ageing asset should be replaced or disposed of.

4. Lack of shareable data between teams.
Whether you’re a small business or an enterprise, an advantage to implementing asset management software is the use of one centralised hub. This hub can be accessed and updated across all teams and departments, meaning everyone inside the organisation can have access to essential asset data.

5. Lost or stolen assets.
Lost and stolen assets can have a huge effect on business operations and costs, with 25% of employees admitting to losing work assets. But, mostly with real-time data through tracking and tagging features, this percentage can be reduced. Managers can have access to data such as real-time location, where an asset was last used, and who an asset was last used by. For example, fleet management can be improved with the use of a GPS tracker installed in a company vehicle.

Q A

Every Asset Management Software Solution Looks the Same - What is the Best Way to Compare Them?

The time may come when, after weeks of searching and enquiring, each asset management software solution look similar. But, with our specialised algorithm and Comparesoft comparison tool, we can provide you with a list of the best asset management software solutions that match your business needs.

Our overall goal is to eliminate the painful process of AMS search and comparison, making it as simple as possible. By providing us with your business’s asset management requirements, we will find the right solution for you.

With the information you provide to us, we can compile and produce a catalogue of product results within minutes. This is based on your assets, how many assets you have, and what industry you work in. You can then take a deeper look into each product with our information-packed profile pages, and even shortlist and compare your favourites against each other.

Before we list any asset management software tool, we ask each vendor to demo their product to us. This way, we can ensure each product matches our high-quality standards. We also rank and recommend each product based on verifiable data and feedback from past customers who have used the asset management product.

Q A

Should I Implement Asset Management for Small Business?

In the UK, small businesses are primarily identified as a company with a workforce of fewer than 20 people and an annual turnover of £1 million to £5 million. And, as with most businesses, a steady flow of revenue is only achievable with the use of business-critical assets that contribute to day-to-day operations. But if these assets where to breakdown, go missing, or sit idle, annual turnovers could take a tumble.

One solution of utilising these assets is through small business asset management. Not only intended for larger companies and enterprises, asset management software can prove vital to a small business’s operations too.

Though a small business can consist of only a few assets, it tends to rely heavily on its limited resources. The cost of operating, or even replacing, these assets could be the difference between staying in the black or falling into the red. But, with asset management software, valuable assets can be effectively tracked and recorded to optimise and maximise their output.

By tracking assets, managers are able to gain an insight into how they are used in the company. They can start to understand when an asset is used, what it is used for, and who it is used by; effectively being able to improve lifecycle management and identify the total cost of ownership for each asset.

Businesses are also able to produce an efficient maintenance and repair schedule, which can reduce the impact of costly and unplanned downtime through preventive and active maintenance. In fact, unplanned downtime is costing businesses up to $260,000 (£200,000) a year in the manufacturing industry alone.

As well as correcting downtime, a useful feature of implementing AMS into a small business is the ability to track assets in real-time. With this, businesses can track and record an asset’s location, see where it was last used, and who it was last used by. This type of data collecting is achievable with tracking and tagging tools such as RFID, GPS, Barcode and Bluetooth. Eventually, this data can lead to a reduction in lost and stolen assets that can be expensive for a small business to replace.

Q A

What is the Difference Between On-premise and Cloud-based Asset Management Solutions?

There are two types of AMS solutions that are commonly used in business; on-premise and cloud-based asset management. On-premise is a type of program that stores all asset data on-site, on local servers. Whereas a cloud-based tool can collect a business’s data and host it on the server of a vendor, making it easily accessible with only an internet connection. This way of storing data and accessing it through a cloud-based solution has become so sought after that 82% of providers have now built their applications specifically for cloud delivery.

An on-premise tool is installed on the grounds of a business, whether that be in the workplace or at a separate location. Implementing a hard-wired system can have its advantages, such as extra security and greater control. However, this can come with a hefty price tag. The large area of space needed, employment of an on-site IT maintenance team, and purchasing a magnitude of hardware, are just some of the upfront costs to consider.

But, this is where a cloud-based asset management tool can prove essential. Firstly, it has minimal upfront costs and is instead purchased on a subscription-based pricing model. Secondly, most AMS solutions have a very low implementation timescale. This allows vendors to deploy the system instantly and make it available through a webpage login or an app.

The centralised hub of a cloud-based AMS solution also means that data is accessible to all teams, departments and employees. This can be useful for companies who need instant access to data but are working across multiple sites or locations. It can also provide field employees with the information they need to make a critical decision when working off-site.

Another advantage of cloud-based software is the ease-of-access to data on multiple devices, such as smartphones and tablets, from anywhere at any time. Some modern tools even provide offline capabilities, allowing teams to view asset data without the need for an internet connection. Whereas an on-premise solution can be strictly for office-use only and data only accessible via company desktops.

Q A

What is the Difference Between Fixed Asset Management and Asset Management?

Fixed asset management is the process of tracking and recorded non-current tangible business assets to maximise the usability of each one. It focuses on the management of physical assets that are primarily used to help generate revenue, such as property and machinery. As opposed to current assets such as cash and short-term investments.

Also referred to as capital assets, fixed assets are generally long-term assets. They have a life span of one accounting year or more and usually appear on a balance sheet as Property, Plant, and Equipment (PP&E). Two examples would be equipment and an office building. These are considered fixed assets because of their physical form and that they will be used to generate revenue in the next few years of operations. They can also be referred to as non-liquid, which means they can not be easily transferred into cash. Whereas current assets, such as inventory, are expected to be converted into cash or used within the year.

Like most generic AMS solutions, fixed asset management enables businesses to track and record their fixed assets with the intention of improving life cycle management. This means, when a fixed asset reaches the end of its usable life, there is enough data to generate an estimated salvage value based on if it was broken down and sold in parts. Or, in some cases, the data will highlight that the asset is no longer valuable and that it should be disposed of without receiving payment.

Finance managers and accountants typically take an interest in knowing how a business’s fixed assets are managed, to ensure correct management as per accounting standards. For example, there are specific depreciation protocols to be followed with fixed assets when compared to leased assets, which are then treated differently to owned assets. Because of this, the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) has defined specific standards to manage different types of assets. For example, IAS 16 relates to the management of property, plant and equipment.

Q A

Can I Replace my Asset Management Spreadsheet with a Software Solution?

Albeit a cost-effective solution, using an asset management spreadsheet to manage and track assets throughout a business can prove costly. If not now, then most likely in the future. And, although a step up from pen and paper, it may actually do more harm than good as a business grows.

Not only do spreadsheets lack the features to effectively manage assets, but they also increase the likelihood of collecting and storing incorrect information. False data most commonly accumulates at the manual input stage, and occurs in the form of duplicated fields and typing errors. This type of human error can be disastrous for any business. So much so, that human error ended up costing UK businesses an estimated £98.6 billion in 2015 alone.

Although errors are easier to locate and resolve when managing just a handful of assets, they can become more common and undetectable as a business expands. With more assets moving in-and-out of the workplace, the process of logging data intensifies. Not only this but with a lack of usability and accessibility, spreadsheets will give no indication as to who or how many employees have updated a file. There is also no audit trail, making it difficult to keep accurate counts of inventory.

But, asset management software prevails as an effective alternative. A feature-laden tool with capabilities such as tracking and tagging can help to reduce errors and significantly improve the accuracy of asset data. Accessibility is enhanced too through the use of cloud-based technology, which can alert managers and employees when data has been edited or updated.

Q A

What is the Asset Life Cycle and is it Important?

A crucial part of asset management is the ability to observe, track and maintain an asset throughout its entire lifecycle. This is known as asset lifecycle management, and it is a crucial process in order to extend the usable life of an asset while maintaining its optimum operational level.

Collecting significant data through the asset lifecycle process helps businesses to grasp the total cost of ownership, while also understanding how each asset can be utilised in day-to-day operations. With this information, a business can determine when an ageing asset is deteriorating and calculate its depreciation value. Essentially helping to reduce future spending by effectively planning for its disposal.

The asset lifecycle can be split into four stages; planning, acquisition, operation & maintenance, and disposal.

1. Planning
Planing can be viewed as a simple, yet crucial, stage of the asset lifecycle process. By analysing trends and evaluating data from existing assets, businesses are able to generate reports and accurately understand the need for acquiring a new asset.

2. Acquisition
Once an asset has been identified, it is acquired and installed. The process of tracking and managing the asset then begins at an early stage, effectively collecting accurate data for any other future acquisitions.

3. Operation & maintenance
After an asset is installed, it can begin to perform its operational duties. If all goes well, this stage will be an asset's most prolonged in its lifecycle. To help extend an asset’s operational life, while still maintaining its usability, an effective maintenance and repair schedule is needed. This can be achieved through preventive, active, reactive, or emergency maintenance.

4. Renewal/Disposal
Finally, at the end of its lifecycle, an asset is either sold, re-purposed, thrown away or recycled. By collecting enough accurate data throughout the asset lifecycle, businesses are able to understand an asset’s total cost of ownership and decide whether to dispose of an ageing asset or replace it. The data may highlight that the asset is no longer valuable to a business and should be scrapped by either dismantling it and selling it for parts, or disposing of it without receiving any payment. But, if there is still a purpose for this type of asset, a replacement can be purchased and the lifecycle begins again.

Here’s a handy infographic to illustrate the four stages of the asset life cycle.

Q A

What are the Benefits of Open Source Asset Management Software?

Open source asset management software is a system that can be modified, inspected and enhanced by businesses to match their own operational needs. This is possible when a software vendor, or the software source code’s author, grants access through the purchase of a license. With most open source software, changes can be made by editing and adding lines of code in the source code.

By having access to the source code, you can essentially edit the platform and create your own version. As opposed to proprietary, or closed software, which allows only the original author to legally alter the software’s code. With access, your in-house programmers are able to customise layouts and even improve security and privacy. All while adding a personal brand to make the system more familiar with your team.

There are various benefits of an open source asset management solution, and the increase of security is its main one. If an employee discovers a security flaw or bug in the source code, your in-house development team can provide an instant fix. Whereas, with closed software, you may have to wait for the vendor to make any critical changes.

Other advantages of an open source software solution include the ability to customise fields, tabs, reports and user roles. It also lets you edit user entry, allowing certain teams and departments access to information that may not be available to others.

Q A

What is the Difference Between Asset Management and Asset Tracking?

The difference between asset management and asset tracking can be minimal, as both systems are closely related. So much so, that asset tracking is included in most modern asset management toolsets. The two tools go hand-in-hand when it comes to obtaining and recording efficient asset data. But, if a business was to purchase one without the other, there are various differences between the two.

Although asset tracking features can be integrated into most asset management systems, they can also be purchased as a stand-alone solution. Mostly utilised for inventory, equipment and fleet, asset tracking focus solely on the tracking and recording of assets; effectively collecting data to build a centralised and accurate asset register.

Along with tracking and tagging features, such as RFID, GPS, Barcode, and Bluetooth, asset tracking enables users to view an asset's current location in real-time and its location history. This information can be especially useful for locating lost or stolen assets and eliminating ghost assets.

Where as asset tracking can be limited to just tracking and recording assets, an asset management tool can provide features to effectively manage assets in order to maximise each ones usability and ROI.

A key part of asset management is life cycle management. Having this data can not only help with forecasting the acquisition of future assets, but it also helps asset managers to assess and conduct the best option for disposing of ageing assets.

AMS solutions also enable businesses to manage planning, budgeting, maintenance management, service management, and much more.

Q A

Is it Possible to Track Assets with Asset Management Software?

An asset management solution can be coupled with various features and technology to effectively track assets throughout a business. Whether that be tracking an asset’s location in real-time or tracking its total usage. With the underlying outcome to understand how each asset is being utilised.

With the use of a Real-Time Location System (RTLS), businesses are able to see the exact location of an asset. This is possible with most RTLS-enabled devices, such as an RFID tag, a Bluetooth receiver or a GPS tracker. These devices have a variety of uses in the workplace, such as using GPS trackers to locate a fleet of company vehicles. They can also be used to identify and eliminate ghost assets and reduce the amount of lost or stolen equipment and inventory.

With an RTLS device attached to an asset, businesses are able to build a historical location log, see which employee used it last, and know the exact location of its current whereabouts. A device can also indicate how long an asset is active for during operations or how long it has been idle for due to maintenance and repairs.

All of this data, gathered by tracking business assets, is crucial to developing a complete asset life cycle. Knowing the life cycle of each asset can be essential for productivity. It can highlight the need for certain assets in the company, produce an effective maintenance and repair schedule to avoid unplanned downtime and help to work out the best option for disposal or replacement. All with the intention to maximise an asset’s overall ROI (Return on Investment).

Q A

Is it Possible to Manage Assets with a Mobile Device?

As technology and software tools modernise, the use of mobile devices and smartphones have become a common feature in the workplace and with AMS solutions. In fact, 60% of employees use mobile devices for work-related activity.

A key feature of being able to manage assets with a mobile device is the ease-of-accessibility. Being constantly attached to a person, either in a pocket or a bag, a mobile device is likely to always be within arms-reach. And, with an integrated mobile AMS system, employees and teams can have regular access to an asset register.

The register will include all essential data and have the ability to be updated and edited while on-the-move. This can be particularly handy for field employees who are working away from the workplace. It can also be used in businesses that have multiple site locations and teams that need access to various data.

With built-in radio antennas, mobile devices can be configured to act as a receiver and track the signal of a transmitter. Allowing them to communicate with other devices like RFID tags and Bluetooth receivers. This gives access to real-time data and can also be used to track an asset’s real-time location. By also using a smartphone’s hardware features, such as the camera, it has the ability to scan an asset’s Barcodes and QR codes. A mobile device’s camera can also come in handy if employees need to instantly attach photos to an asset’s data file for others to see.

Other benefits to managing assets with a mobile device include alerts and notifications for asset availability, knowing the status of work orders, and having instant access to reports and budgets.

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